Yesterday on the Michigan’s Big Show, MI-07 Republican Congressman Tim “I was a tea partier before there was a tea party” Walberg was asked about the Flint water crisis. His takeaway message from the poisoning of Flint’s drinking water with the powerful odorless, tasteless, invisible neurotoxin lead is that “government can’t protect us against everything”:
“This shows that government can’t protect us against everything. It comes down to people watching out for themselves and staying attuned.”
You can listen for yourself here (his comment comes in at the 6:50 mark):
This is a truly astonishing comment from a man who sits on the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform which will hear from Gov. Snyder and former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley later this month. Along with his Republican colleagues, Walberg puts much of the blame on the USEPA on the one hand and condemns people who he claims are “politicizing” the Flint debacle on the other.
If you look at the poisoning of Flint as evidence that you can’t trust government rather than as evidence that running government like a business is a provably failed model, you have no business being in government. Sacha Haworth, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put it best: “Walberg’s constituents are looking at him for guidance, and he effectively throws up his hands and says, ‘You need to watch out for yourselves’?,” she asked. “That is a completely unacceptable answer from a Member of Congress.”
She’s right. Flint residents have every right to have the expectation that their government, as a very bare minimum, will supply them with drinkable water every day. When their government fails to do that due to corner cutting and attempting to run government on the cheap, the response from Congress shouldn’t be “don’t trust your government to protect you, you’re on your own.” And, by the way, Flint residents were told by state officials that there was nothing wrong with their water. How on earth were they supposed to know they should be “watching out for themselves”? Should they have just randomly stopped drinking the water from their tap because they can’t trust the government? All while paying the most expensive water bills in the country for undrinkable water?
Walberg’s Democratic opponent in this year’s general election is state House Representative Gretchen Driskell called Rep. Walberg’s offensive statement “shocking” and “really, really disappointing.”
“I took a serious oath of office that I would look after the safety and well-being of our citizens. That’s our primary role,” Driskell said. “As a former mayor, that’s the basic minimum. If we don’t have an expectation of at least clean drinking water … I find that shocking.”
Driskell has been collecting questions from residents of Michigan’s 7th district which Walberg “represents” at her website, questions Rep. Walberg’s constituents want him to ask Gov. Snyder when he testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of which Walberg is a member. In the Michigan Big Show interview, Walberg called that “pure politics”.
“The Governor is the leader of our state and he’s been slow to answer a lot of questions,” Driskell said in response. “That’s why they’re doing another congressional hearing. It is interesting that Mr. Walberg is saying this is politics. It’s his responsibility to listen to his constituents. It’s confusing that I was being called political when he’s not doing his job of oversight.”
You can send in your own question HERE.